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Farmers and Indigenous United

by que viva! Friday, Sep. 19, 2003 at 2:36 PM

Historic Gathering Set for October 12 in Venezuela

Farmers and Indigenous United

Historic Gathering Set for October 12 in Venezuela

By Alex Contreras Baspineiro

Special to The Narco News Bulletin

September 14, 2003

COCHABAMBA, BOLIVIA; SEPTEMBER 2003: In an expression of solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, indigenous and peasant farmer leaders from across the continent, and representatives from other countries of the world, will gather October 11th to 14th in Caracas, Venezuela. The meeting is intended to strengthen the struggles against globalization, consolidate a bloc to fight for a better future, and unite forces against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Leaders from indigenous and peasant-farmer organizations in the offices of the Venezuelan National Land Institute

Photo D.R. 2003 Alex Contreras Baspineiro

In a meeting held this month in Caracas, indigenous and campesino leaders Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Alegría of Honduras, Blanca Chancoso of Ecuador, Egidio Brunetto of Brazil, Juan Tiney of Guatemala, Braulio Alvarez and Nicia Maldonado of Venezuela, among others, decided to call for the October meeting to converge the social struggles of the continent.

Juan Tiney, of the Latin American Farmer Organizations Board (CLOC, in its Spanish initials) said that peasant farmers and indigenous peoples are not objects, as neoliberal economic policies treat them, but, rather, are their own subjects, and as such have a right to participate in decisions that affect them. Egidio Bruneto of the landless “Sin Tierra” Movement (MST, in its Portuguese initials) of Brazil, said that land, water, and agricultural products are not merchandise, but, rather, resources that must be preserved to succeed at positive development. And Blanca Chancoso of the Ecuador Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE, in its Spanish initials) said that “land is life” and must thus be defended by all the peoples together.

For his part, Barulio Álvarez of the National “Exequiel Zamora” Agrarian Board (CANEZ) in Venezuela said that unity in diversity is necessary to confront the policies imposed by the World Trade Organization and the FTAA. Rafael Alegría of “Via Campesina” (“Farmer’s Path”) said that one cannot speak of a fight against poverty without the redistribution of lands and food sovereignty. Finally, Evo Morales, Bolivian congressman and coca grower leader, said that the fight to defend the land must now include the resources of the land, including the soil, subsoil and aerial space above it.

An Invitation to Unity

President Hugo Chavez with Ecuadorian indigenous leader Blanca Chancoso on the “Aló Presidente” television program

Photo D.R. 2003 Alex Contreras Baspineiro

The invitation to the “International Gathering of Resistance and Solidarity with Farmers and Indigenous Peoples” states:

“We will soon commemorate the date that resistance by the original peoples began: 511 years ago one of the most terrible exterminations in the history of humanity began, and since then the story has been written in our indigenous blood, with our suffering, our misery, our exclusion and abandonment.

“The want us to leave our millenarian cultures, languages, believes, and wisdom, in order to be subjected to another, foreign and distant, one. They kick us off our lands, the essence of our life itself. And this practice of imposition and denial has been, essentially, always the same, denying our repressed peoples our own identity.

“Today, in Venezuela, winds of deep change are blowing. The people have begun to write their own story, become captains of their own destiny, and have forever broken the silence under which they were imposed. Indigenous rights are, today, part of the Constitution. The delivery of lands to the original and ancestral owners, to achieve food sovereignty, is today the government’s policy and the essence of a new democracy. We, the people of the world, state our profound solidarity with these winds that cross borders, blowing over the Andes, the Amazon, the high plains, and arriving at destinations far from the Southern Cone of our continent.

“This is force that advances cannot be detained. It pushes us to meet with each other and with our brothers and sisters. It fills us with hope for new horizons that we are constructing. And it marks a new path that we must walk, a call to heal wounds, to come out from under our millenarian debt with our indigenous peoples and the farmlands.

“As part of this process that we consider vital for indigenous peoples and peasant farmers of our hemisphere and of the world, we invite you to meet on Venezuelan land for the October 12th commemoration, the official date, in this country, celebrating the resistance by oppressed peoples.

“New threats and challenges are in front us that we must confront together, as the one people that we are, in order to have more strength in our actions. We are called upon to rescue the Bolivarian and ancestral ideal of Latin American unity, that which goes beyond mere economies and that was born in the hearts of our peoples.

“That’s why we invite all the indigenous peoples and peasant farmers of the world to reunite on October 11, 12, 13, and 14, on Venezuelan land, the country of Guaicaipuró and of Ezequiel Zamora, to set our sights on strengthening the struggle against neoliberal globalization, against FTAA, the IMF, the WTO, and any other form of imperialism, and in favor of the land, the seeds, the forests, the food, the culture, the water, and the natural elements, the essences of life itself, and in favor of a series of proposals that come from our bases, the eternally excluded, and to promote concrete actions that demonstrate that a different world is possible.”

“We Globalize the Fight! We Globalize Hope!”

National Conveners: CONIVE (Venezuelan National Indian Conference), Coordinadora Agraria Nacional Ezequiel Zamora, Foro Bolivariano de Nuestra América, Attac-Venezuela, Catia Tve.

International Conveners: COICA, Conaie, Vía Campesina, CLOC, MST.

Supported by: CICA, Alianza Amazónica, Amazon Watch, Parlamento Indígena de América, Alianza Continental, Asociación No al ALCA de Salvación Agropecuaria.

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